…is devoted to the proposition that each of us has powerful and interesting stories to tell if we do the work to find them.
IN LIEU OF TWITTER…
Now that I no longer have a Twitter account (though I remain on Instagram @drnoir33), I post occasional short thoughts here instead.
March 17, 2023: Forget “Ginger vs. Mary Anne.” When it comes to classic television, put me firmly in camp Zelda Gilroy. Sheila James Kuehl (a trailblazer in her own right) deftly portrayed Zelda as brilliant, thoughtful, strong-willed and utterly adorable. She had spirit and depth. Yes, I had a huge crush on Zelda when I discovered reruns of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis in the early 80s. Thalia Menninger and the rest of the “Many Loves” could not touch her. (Nothing against the great Tuesday Weld, mind you, who gave an astonishing performance in Thief).
March 15, 2023: At the end of my most recent YouTube video I hint at an upcoming video. Betwen 1937 (Charlie Chan at the Olympics) and 1942 (Castle in the Desert), legendary cinematographer Virgil Miller (1887-1974) photographed nine of the 22 Fox Studios Charlie Chan films, including an exceptional seven-film run from Charlie Chan in Reno (released June 16, 1939) to Murder Over New York (December 30, 1940). It is no coincidence the classic era of film noir starts around this time. I argue in Interrogating Memory that these films – model “B” pictures of immense popularity – served as a necessary bridge between the flat-lit crime films of the 1930s and the high-contrast crime films of the 1940s. I also argue film noir was less an artistic movement than an economic one, as film studios needed to crank out inexpensive B pictures to fill pre-booked movie theater slots. Miller’s cinematography in these films was both transcendent and trend-setting.
Here is the funny thing, though.
I watched my first Charlie Chan film – 1941’s Dead Men Tell – on Saturday, July 24, 1976, as part of a double feature with the Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes film Pearl of Death. Ironically, while Dead Men Tell was one of three (of 11) Fox Charlie Chan films starring Sidney Toler not photographed by Miller, he did photograph Pearl of Death.
March 12, 2023: Because this is apparently what I do now, here is my fifth YouTube video. It is a pretty solid introduction to my channel.
INTERROGATING MEMORY UPDATES!
Video introduction. This is the second video I posted to my “Doctor Noir” channel on YouTube.
Revisions galore. I am currently deep in the research weeds learning new information for the revised and updated – and less expensive – paperback edition of my book Interrogating Memory: Film Noir Spurs a Deep Dive Into My Family History…and My Own. As a result, however, my plan to record myself reading the book as 11 or 12 “podcasts” is on hold.
Calling an audible. Here is the audio “teaser trailer” I recorded in August 2022:
Award-nominated. Interrogating Memory is under serious consideration for the 2022 Athenaeum of Philadelphia Literary Award! The short list will be released around February 1, 2023, with the winner announced around April 1, 2023 In the meantime, the Athenaeum just designated it as a “next great read” (along with 37 other books) in an Instagram post. I remain deeply humbled by their interest in my book, which, among other things, is a heartfelt love letter to Philadelphia. [Update February 10, 2023: Alas, I was not on the short list of four finalists, though I remain grateful for the consideration.]
Local events. On September 15, I participated in Hummingbird Books’ first Local Author Fair. The event was a success, in large part because of the deep literary talent pool in the Boston area.
WHAT IS THIS WEBSITE?
The purposes of this website are…
ONE, to tell stories with data, as in this map showing the current “electoral geography” of the United States, at least at the presidential level.
Two, to describe, promote and sell my books, be it through BookShop, Amazon (and similar online retailers) or this very website.
My story-telling style—call it “annotated meandering”—inspired this site’s name.
I do always get to the point, though…eventually.
Just bear with me.
WHO AM I?
Click here to learn about Matt (aka Dr. Noir).
WHAT KIND OF STORIES DO I TELL HERE?
Broadly speaking, I write essays – tell stories – about topics in three areas:
- My own life (see below)
- American politics – including calls for bipartisanship and mutual respect
- Popular culture – primarily film/television and music
Within film/television, I have written a great deal about film noir, but also about Charlie Chan films, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and what makes a pleasure (in this case, film) “guilty.”
I write about other topics as well, including our lives during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, baseball, epidemiology and public health, true crime and anything else about which I can tell a good story.
I ALSO WRITE BOOKS!
Far more often than I had expected, I tell stories from my own life, using what I call “contextualized introspection.” My first (self-)published book, Interrogating Memory: Film Noir Spurs a Deep Dive Into My Family History…and My Own, is precisely in this vein. And while supplies last, you may purchase a signed copy through this website for only $25, a savings of more than $10 off the Amazon list price. You may also purchase it as an ebook.
Interrogating Memory began as an attempt to turn an essay about why I love film noir into a full-length book. At the same time, I was undergoing genetic testing, exploring my own personal “origin story” and using tools like Ancestry and Newspapers to help me contextualize my “journey” within a larger American immigrant story. I coined the term “interrogating memory” to describe this process – and one of the first things I learned was that the death of my paternal great-grandfather David Louis Berger made the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer more than 100 years ago.
I recently received my first – wholly unsolicited – review, and I could not be more grateful and humbled. David Mayhew wrote: “Greatly have I enjoyed your new book, which kept me glued! It all flows well. Film noir is a real fetching theme! What an expert and connoisseur you are!” Other writers such as Larry Harnisch (“It’s a good one!”) and Morgan Richter (“I am enjoying it immensely.”) have also praised it.
I have now begun to write my second book, tentatively titled Meet Me at the Counter: A Life in Diners. Indeed, the photograph at the top of the page shows the sorely-missed ValeRio diner, which once sat on Route 23 in Phoenixville, PA, at the intersection with Route 113 North. It features prominently in a number of posts – such as those having to do with constructive dialogue and healthy skepticism.
At least…that was what I began to write until I inadvertently stumbled upon the January 1909 statutory rape trial of Adelaide “Addie” Burns – who just happened to be the first wife of my wife Nell’s paternal grandfather. I now plan to write a book about this trial, grounding it in both the aftermath of the Civil War (tens of thousands of dead fathers, husbands, sons and brothers) and the distinctive social mores – including nativism, misogyny, and Congregationalist (read: Calvinist) attitudes toward poverty and crime – of Connecticut at the time.
I am also considering writing books about prognostication in the 2022 midterm elections and film noir, drawing more extensively from my Excel database.
WHAT ELSE WILL YOU FIND HERE?
The Noir of Who: Classic Film Noir’s Imprint on the Resurrected Doctor Who
WHAT DO I ASK FROM READERS?
Just continue to bear with me, while inviting others to do the same. I am grateful to everyone who clicks “Like” and comments in a respectful way: it truly is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.
I invite you to follow me on Instagram @drnoir33.
Please also check out my Interrogating Memory book. I think you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Then keep an eye out for new essays and my upcoming The Burns Woman and Life in Diners books.
And if you enjoy what you read here, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation.
HOW CAN YOU CONTACT ME?
I want to hear from you!
Please click here to offer your thoughts, ask me questions – or just say Hello!
2 thoughts on “JUST BEAR WITH ME…”
Wow I lost track of you! Congratulations on starting your second book!!!
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thank you! I had actually started writing A Life in Diners before stumbling upon the Addie Burns trial. I have been living in late 19th / early 20th century Connecticut ever since. 🙂
LikeLiked by 2 people